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Wright, Shultz Call Off 'Tiff' on Central America

November 17, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Jim Wright and Secretary of State George P. Shultz held an unusual and hastily arranged meeting today to put their differences over Central American policy and tactics behind them and wish success to cease-fire negotiators.

"The Speaker and I, as is well known, had a little tiff" during a White House meeting Monday over Wright's high-profile role in Central America's regional peace efforts, Shultz told reporters after his brief session with Wright.

The meeting reportedly included a heated confrontation between the two men over Wright's failure to keep the State Department fully informed of his activities. (Story on Page 8.)

'Want to Work Together'

"The important thing is to look ahead and focus on things we agree on," Shultz added. He said the idea of the rapprochement arose during a lunch Shultz had at the State Department with Democratic political strategist Robert Strauss, who suggested a joint Wright-Shultz statement.

Wright and Shultz then read from a six-point statement, noting that both men want the peace process to succeed and that peace efforts should be concentrated in Central America and "guided primarily by Central Americans."

The statement concluded: "Neither of us wants to create unnecessary problems. We want to work together to bring about solutions."

Asked whether he has forsworn further contact with those involved in the negotiations, Wright did not respond.

'Debate ... Has Distracted'

At the White House earlier, presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said of the dispute over Wright's role:

"We are disturbed that there would be this kind of distraction from the process. We're trying to give it every opportunity to work. The debate between the Speaker and the White House has distracted from that, and I think that's one of the unfortunate aspects of his involvement. But it's also why I prefer not to further the debate, because there are very important things going on down there that we need to keep the focus on."

Monday's White House meeting came at Wright's request as a chance for him to explain his actions in meeting with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, leaders of the opposition Contras and Nicaraguan Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, who is acting as a mediator in cease-fire negotiations.

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